Virulence of wild-type E. coli uroisolates in experimental pyelonephritis

Kidney Int. 1988 Dec;34(6):761-5. doi: 10.1038/ki.1988.246.


This study was designed to analyze the colonizing and invasive properties of wild-type bacteriuric E. coli possessing a variety of phenotypic characteristics in experimental nonobstructive pyelonephritis (P and Type 1 [T] fimbriae, hemolysin [Hly], presence of K capsules, flagella [H], serotype, biotype, human and mouse serumcidal resistance). Special emphasis was on the role of Gal-Gal adhesin (P fimbriae) of non-genetically engineered uroisolates. It was shown that organisms that are P+ or T+ or Hly+ are more likely to colonize bladders than strains negative for those parameters (P less than 0.001). Additionally, P+ strains were more often associated with kidney histopathology than P- E. coli (P less than 0.05). However, the data also indicated that fimbriae (P and Type 1) were not sole determinants of virulence since two strains devoid of fimbriae, hemolysin, K capsules and sensitive to human serumcidal activity caused incipient and acute pyelonephritis. Even among identical serotypes and biotypes, the presence/absence of fimbriae did not appear to be the critical factor in urovirulence, nor did the presence of several positive characteristics (hemolysin, K capsule, flagella, serum resistance) in a given strain enhance uropathogenicity. Therefore, these properties do not need to work together to render an E. coli urovirulent. These phenotypic characters may simply represent associated or serologic markers with the host serving as the dominant determinant of susceptibility to urinary infection. The findings emphasize the inherent limitations in relating and extrapolating colonizing and invasive properties of genetically engineered strains to those of naturally occurring, wild-type E. coli human uroisolates causing pyelonephritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Pyelonephritis / microbiology*
  • Virulence


  • Adhesins, Escherichia coli
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins